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Mawarire left Zimbabwe under hard-to-understand circumstances

25 Sep 2016 at 09:34hrs | Views
One basic rule in politics is never to concede ground, still less to allow shrinkage of the space you hold or dominate.

You live true to this motto both by being careful not to tread on doubtful turf, and by being tenacious and even pugnacious on the turf you already hold.

You cannot be careful by venturing, Don Quixote-like, into zones where you are sure or most likely to meet odds that overwhelm you, all to register loud reversals.

And in politics reversals beget more reversals, whether real or imputed.

After all, the foremost interpreters of your performances are your opponents who have a vested interest in exaggerating your defeats, real and ascribed.

This is one lesson which Donald Trump, until now has had to learn.

Fortunately he did so when there was still time, enabling him to mend his ways, and to behave more circumspectly. However rough one finds him, clearly he is the stronger candidate, given the gains he continues to make against the gingerly Hilary Clinton, and after such spectacular show of repeated alienating intemperances.

I mean if Clinton was solid on the ground, as she appeared to be a few months back, Trump's gaffes should have seen her well beyond the horizon. Not this see-saw, if results of opinion polls are anything to go by.

And one has to be careful with opinion polls, what with what happened in British elections not too far ago. But all this is to wonder off the point.

A pound for my tears
Evan Mawarire of the #ThisFKag movement, the presumptive pastor in our politics, should have seen it coming. He did not have to test his own reach, bearing in mind he was pitting himself against a whole Government, a whole party and a whole Robert Mugabe.

The array was clearly formidable, and he should have known that, if only he had graduated beyond a combination of schoolboy politics and pseudo-broadcast anchor-showmanship he stupidly tries out on the social media.

From the very outset, the scales were against him.

He sought to export demonstrators to the US, forgetting the US brims with Zimbabweans who can hardly be regarded as indifferent to the politics of their mother country.

His own politics - if politics they are - had no appeal on this home multitude in the Diaspora who simply dismissed him as a nuisance at best, and as third-rate conman playing big at worst.

He is both.

I mean, you charge Zimbabweans to witness your cheap showmanship, to watch your crocodile tears? Please!

Much worse, teaming up with one Manyika - a son of a long-time ambassador of President Mugabe - who is all he is because of President Mugabe's patronage through his father, and you think the world takes you seriously. As it turned out, Manyika who hoped to overtake Mawarire's imagined constituency here at home so as to launch himself politically could not even convince Zimbabwean pastors in the Diaspora who in turn avoided him like imbwa ine chikundu, a dog with fleas and rabbis.

Asking a bird in the nest to go home
Secondly, for Mawarire the act of mounting action in the US was, or should have been, premised on a desire to broaden the anti-Mugabe fight to assume global scope.

You do not achieve this by "bussing" a handful of Zimbabweans to the United States, do you? In the first place, for a man who could not even discharge basic filial duties in his home, the question that immediately begged is where he got the means to achieve the "feat" of flying agitators into the US.

And the answer is not hidden: curtsies of the US government through its embassy here! This does not need proof, never will. It only needs to be claimed by his opponents for it to be true.

And they did, which is why one poster showed him wrapped (or is it smothered) in a star-spangled flag. Not quite homely; certainly never #This Flag!

If your cause has really gained global traction, you use nationals of the country which is the locale of your political action for all your political performatives.

As did President Mugabe and his December 12 Movement.

By abstracting himself from home ground, by playing on extra-territorial ground, Evan claimed for himself and asked us to judge him as a global actor. We did. We do, and hey, what a puny creature he cuts!

His rant against the December 12 Movement, principally his charge that "they were not even Zimbabweans", was fatal.

If Mawarire was reflective, he would have stopped to think he was posing a question of nationality and identity on American nationals while on American ground!

Or does he regard it as his home ground, in the process confirming President Mugabe's postulate that he does not belong "here" — here meaning in Zimbabwe?

Why would a self-reflexive actor raise the issue of nationality against African-African Americans acting on home ground, indeed validating Mugabe's claim to global stature, something he himself could not demonstrate?

Out, out straw man
Thirdly, Mawarire left Zimbabwe under hard-to-understand circumstances.

Those gratuitously charitable to him and his dubious cause will say his life was in danger.

Those fair and reasonable will retort: in no greater danger or less happiness than his tajamuka/taneta colleagues who have been making fools of themselves repeatedly here at home, albeit clearly with diminishing political ardour.

His objective — these fair critics will add — was never to challenge Mugabe. Rather it was to cherish Mugabe's disfavour for the helpful notice of Mugabe's traditional western enemies whose adoption and patronage he sorely craved for.

Indeed this is what has since happened, once more proving that social media-based social movements are nothing more than one-morning, one-laughter, effervescing wonders, completely bereft of staying power and influence, indeed susceptible to foreign capture.

He is a straw man, he always was.

Today the burden falls on Mawarire, never on Mugabe, the supposed butt of the whole action.

He has to prove to his handlers that he can outstrip the miasmic longevity of man, message, means and medium of choice.

Yelling vaporous causes from New York's 2nd/57th Street has never been the way to change the world, except in the eyes of a home audience which does not know how the intergovernmental United Nations snubs lunatics while making them feel loved, loud and important. And as it turned out, Mawarire could not even hold that space, getting painfully dislodged by December 12.

The man died
Unable to raise a global audience, unable to match his opponent, Mawarire deepened his self-exile. Yes, by leaving home, he sought voluntary self-exile that made him inconsequential to the real politics of home.

Much worse, by losing ground even on foreign turf of his choice, he shrank a great deal further, sank into the surreal, making his connection with home politics not just tenuous, but exceedingly comical.

Above all, by being on the social media, daily parodying a cub war correspondent he never could be, he made himself an inhabitant of the nether, a player in virtual politics that leave him thrice alienated from the work-a-day world where real power is got or lost.

If Soyinka were to write Mawarire's requiem, he would say — in characteristic wit hewn from the banal — the man died! And all his strenuous actions in the days leading to the UN amounted to a quest for a second life, well before the second coming!

The man should read his fate — ineluctable — from his fore-running quislings.

The imperialists wring every ounce of propaganda value out of you, then throw you out and off like some rubber tissue whose life and value never exceeds the performance!

Or simply discard you when you prove good for nothing. He does not have to search far, or read deeper, to know his fate which has already started unravelling.

Adieu Monsieur!

Evan, the nowhere man
But give it to formal opposition here. Whether by contrivance or coincidence, they have regained agency which Mawarire had stolen by his hashtag nonsense.

The E-van has made way to MDC-T's Promise, which is what is creating a tinge of disruptive envy in the supposed opposition coalition.

They could not demonstrate in Chitungwiza, a very foreboding failure. Martyrdom is the grist of political leadership. It is hewn between the hammer of brave, oppositional actions, and the anvil of incarceration.

Never on the e-hammer of www, falling on the hardened anvil of virtual politics! Holding no ground, Evan could not be tenacious and pugnacious; lacking political sophistication, he did not choose turf with due care.

He has lost to Zanu-PF; he has lost the opposition. Truly a nowhere man.

The whole world reverberates from the din of his spectacular reversal which Chatham this week will certainly deepen, seal.

Runaida's ill-clad illusion
But he is not alone in misfortunes. Or in breaching the aforesaid golden rule of political engagement.

His other forlorn companion is one Joice Mujuru, also headed for Chatham. And this is how.

Back home, many thought she was doing fairly well in creating illusions so necessary to politics: raising multitudes at her rallies. Marondera was a good show. Bindura was a good show. Both suggested ascendant political fortunes in the eyes of the uninformed, untutored.

Until of course one gets the details of behind-the-scenes political contrivances that raised the numbers at her rallies.

Boosted by curiosity which whilst killing the cat in lore, kills gullible aspirants in politics.

I watched her very carefully, un-deluded by the synthetic multitude meant to deceive the eye.

There was much to be read, much that went undressed in what was supposed to be a well-clad illusion.

Save for a cabal that was in front rows of Bindura, the greater part of her audience was mute, nonplussed and unresponsive.

I am avoiding using the word indifferent, for she is still on trial. Which is why real attention must shift to the message she gave and has to give.

Pronouncing herself guilty and insincere
Fatally, she harped on wartime promises which she said had gone unmet in the 36 years that went by, 34 of them with her in Government!

Certainly the last ten with her as a whole Vice-President of the republic!

Nothing in her address suggested the gains of 34 years had been reversed in the last two years when she was no longer in government. Nothing!

Quite the contrary, the few war veterans she paraded bore the scars of 36 long years of neglect, 34 of them incriminating her the same way she sought to blame those still in Government.

And the message that came through was an unintended one: I am an insincere politician, a leader who passes the buck, one you cannot trust!

She even forgot the first few months of People First were dominated by apologies for alleged ills of government about whose culpability she admitted she was a sharer.

The whole matter assumes its full severity when one considers that she cannot even craft a fool-proof political argument in a pre-election season when no one is challenging her copy.

It is not hard to visualise her fate when the deck gets congested and there is a response to every blow she throws or receives. But all this is a lesser challenge for her.

Stung by dead myths
Her real challenge lies in picking and choosing right places, right platforms and right audiences, or conversely shunning wrong audiences and wrong platforms.

It is hard to fathom just how she chose Balagwe, South Africa and ANN7.

She very knew right from her days in government that the Gukurahundi myth — and myth is the right word — is carefully cultivated and defended by trenchant centurions.

I am not talking about the unfortunate conflict which cost us so much as a nation in the early '80s, and which must never happen again.

I am talking about the political construct from it by those political opportunists who think their staid politics can gain traction from that conflict. They don't want anyone near their myth, and will kill for any attempted pilferage.

Which is what Runaida should have known before making that preposterous political proposition to visit Balagwe.

This is well before we discuss her fitness to make the pilgrimage, political fitness. It tells you her whole political project — like that of Mawarire — is not just false and hypocritical; it is mortally susceptible, ill-thought.

There is enough raw material in the present state we are in for an imaginative opposition politician to work with, without embroiling themselves in bitter occurrences that should not only be made by-gones, but which are self-incriminatory.

The trouble is that these opposition politicians are sold dead myths by funding outsiders, dead myths on which to launch their own politics, forgetting dead myths don't make living political tissue.

As events have since shown, her threat to resurrect Gukurahundi did not make her an opponent of Zanu-PF; rather, it made her a victim of the pseudo-politics of her oppositional peers.

A catch in a tub
And then her ill-fated rally in South Africa. What was that for?

Already having upset Matabeleland by her hypocritical tears for Balagwe, Joice waded into South Africa, itself heartland of Mthwakazi's loud but numerically insignificant politics.

There was fracas which Zanu-PF watched with a giggle. Scuffles! What a way of announcing her political arrival.

And an address to another indifferent, nay, hostile audience. Then embezzlement of donor funds by well-known crooks! Kikiki!

It was an eventful week for this lady who should have known better.

I hear many sighs of surprise. Except you guys do not know her, never saw her at close range. I did.

That is her, pristine her!

I mean you have to be very daft to think that a mere two years after being kicked out of Government, Diasporan Zimbabweans can separate you from that same Government that chucked you out.

Even dafter to waste your time on what to all intents and purposes is an inert Diaspora vote.

It does not need any divination to know that electoral reforms —whatever that means — will never incorporate a Diaspora vote.

Or that a rand-earning Zimbabwean, no matter how moved politically, will not drive back to a dollarised home merely to cast a vote.

Why waste, as we say in Shona, ammunition on crows when fowls are coming?

When a foreign tongue tripped her
Then came the disastrous ANN7 interview whose truncated version was shown on websites. What a disaster, an un-purchased boon for her political opponents!

She struggled to string together basic sentences, mixing tenses and violating that basic concord between a subject and its verb, something taught in high school.

Not that good English need matter.

But once a politician — by own choice— makes it matter, then (s)he cannot blame the world for judging her/him by the syntactical rules that govern her code and medium of choice.

More so when she claims to have a scholastic title prefixing her name.

Indeed all the more so when she takes her campaign to an international audience.

Much worse, when the butt of her political communication is President Mugabe, an impeccable user of the Queen's code.

Political communication is not like a sermon where the end goal of human piety can encourage glossing over communication faults. It is adversarial, meaning everything matters: sense, diction, syntax, sound and delivery.

Getting to know her real purpose
And Joice has this nasty habit of drawing attention to her mastery of strategic management. Does a woman who brings in faggots full of ants get surprised when a lizard visits her?

The ANN7 interview was an all-round disaster for her and for her cause: you struggled to get the drift of her argument; with all the goodwill in the world, you still got distracted by her lack of basic conversational competence in English.

And the Gupta station did not help matters at all. It made a mess of editing to what was very bad copy, in the process reinforcing an overwhelming sense of ineptitude.

In the end she came across as either not understanding questions, incoherent, or simply as ducking issues.

It was a poor show, one which her image minders should have known and anticipated.

Her sojourn this week at Chatham House will only underline that limitation.

The trouble is that no one from her side ever quite interpreted for her why she was brought in politically.

It was never to make her a political principal; but merely to give the preferred princes a legitimating association with an overrated war veteran. Poor Joice.


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